One of the most important tasks for a new head coach is recruiting, from the players who have yet to make a choice to those who are already a part of the program. Of course there will be turnover, as evidenced by the rising number of transfers in college basketball, but the key for any new coach is to make sure he’s got enough quality pieces to be competitive.
And there there’s the dilemma of what to do with prospects who have signed a National Letter of Intent with the prior staff. While some will decide to stick around despite a coaching change others will want to reopen their recruitment, and that’s reportedly the case with Missouri signee Namon Wright.
One day after Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times reported that Wright would be requesting his release Jacob Steimer of the Columbia Missourian confirmed the news with Wright’s high school coach. According to Pacific Hills coach Ivan Barahona, Missouri asked Wright to hold off on the request until they completed the hiring process with former Central Missouri head coach Kim Anderson eventually being the hire.
However despite this move to request a release from his NLI, Wright apparently remains interested in Missouri despite the departure of the coaches (Frank Haith and Mark Phelps) who spent so much time recruiting him.
Barahona said Anderson will be in Los Angeles on Tuesday to talk with Wright, and he made it clear that Wright is still heavily considering attending Missouri.
“He likes Missouri a lot, let met tell you,” Barahona said.
Wright told his coach that Missouri’s campus is beautiful, that the people he met there were great, and that he enjoys Missouri’s fans who follow him on Twitter.
Missouri currently has two players committed to joining the program, with Jakeenan Gant deciding to remain signed and D’Angelo Allen committing Sunday. The retention of Gant was obviously a positive development for Anderson and his staff, which includes holdover Tim Fuller.
And if they can convince Wright, a Top 100 product, to join the program Missouri will receive a much-needed boost on the perimeter as they look to account for the early departures of Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.